Sufia stole from her classmates in school. Amer led a gang of boys in throwing stones at passing cars. Hani was caught spray-painting caravans.
Like Sufia, Amer and Hani, many young Syrian refugees living in Zaatari Camp have resorted to anti-social behavior in the face of frustration and boredom. Knowing this, Questscope reached out several months ago to youth in the camp to connect with those who were left out and at-risk.
Over 400 youth have poured into the Questscope site to join our mentoring program, which aims to reduce violence and problematic behavior. Here, they found role models in mentors who respect and listen to them, friends their age who share their struggles, and positive group activities that provide structure in their days. At Questscope, they found a new and refreshing start.
Now, three months later, we are stunned again by the transformation. Over the course of the program, Questscope measured an average 63% improvement in the psychosocial health of these young refugees. They feel less afraid, less isolated and less powerless. They feel capable of solving problems and making decisions.
These are youth who previously felt violence was their only option in response to war, displacement and trauma. Now, they have exchanged their weapons for education, relationships and community.
These same youth carry the potential to play a significant role in shaping a new Syria after the conflict ends. Whether that impact is positive or negative depends greatly on what happens with these youth now. Given the initial impact, we are hopeful. When connected with a champion and a second chance, we believe the most vulnerable and at-risk youth can become problem-solvers, decision-makers and leaders.
Names have been changed for protection and confidentiality.